Tag Archives: history

SBC #06 Fox & Star Fox 2

Doing this againTwo facts:

  • Star Fox 2 is an amazing, fun game.
  • Star Fox 2 would have destroyed Nintendo if it were released in 1995.

So let us examine how two incongruent truths exist.

Star Fox 2 is Great!

The original Star Fox is a great game that is probably best described as Nintendo’s finest candidate for the Star Fox: Super Challenge. It is a 3-D rail shooter that sees Fox & friends fly between planets in an effort to repel a deadly ape invasion. It is great fun, and a marvelous technical achievement for its time. It is also a remarkably straightforward game, with a meager number of named characters battling over an army of anonymous polygons, bosses exactly as remarkable as their unexceptional names (“Mommy, I want a Blade Barrier action figure!”), and gameplay that is the very definition of “on rails”. Give or take different difficulty routes, Star Fox is an extremely basic game released at a time when Mario was finding secret exits, Link was exploring a gigantic world, and even Kirby was rocking an intricate adventure back on the NES. Star Fox was comparatively limited, and fun in spite of the fact that it did not possess the freedom of its contemporaries. Sometimes a decent “score attack” is all you need!

WeeeeStar Fox 2 took everything to the next level. In the first game, you exclusively controlled Fox, and your wingmen were 10% helpful, 90% escort missions. Now you had a full selection of six playable pilots, and your chosen partner was a trusted advisor and another potential life meter. And speaking of wingmen, the two newest Star Fox recruits were a pair of women with novel, distinct attendant stories. We were dealing with a Mario Kart-esque situation wherein different characters were all generally very similar, but the option of personally steering Slippy Toad in and out of danger was appreciated. Additionally, the Star Wolf team was introduced, so Sonic could fight Shadow, and a player could really sink their teeth into a dogfight between two comparable canis. It sure beats the pants off Professor Hanger.

But Star Fox 2’s improvements were not limited to plot options. Star Fox 2 expanded the shoot ‘em up gameplay of Star Fox and added what could best be described as baby’s first real time strategy game. You have two arwings, and Andross has an army that includes ships, planetary bases, missiles, and at least one (1) space dragon. It is your mission to steer your two pilots around the galaxy, and block any and all oncoming threats that could potentially harm Corneria. As such, you must carefully manage your (two) resources, and scoot around a very active galactic battlefield to keep your base secure, your navigators healthy, and Andross in a constant state of exploding. At a time when “world map” mostly meant pressing right to go to the next level, this dynamic universe was practically unheard of on home consoles.

Love this guyBut let’s not ignore the main event: Star Fox is a shoot ‘em up, and Star Fox 2 expands on that gameplay, too. Dogfights! Flying in full, 3-D arenas! Exploring bases by transforming into a walking, shooting robot! Charged attacks! Bosses that are more complicated than aiming for a glowing weak point! Mostly! The basics of Star Fox feel like a demo for the more attractive gameplay of Star Fox 2, and the fact that we wouldn’t see many of these features until the Nintendo 64 is a major loss for Super Nintendo players of the mid 90’s.

Of course, such thinking is moot, as the world of 1995 would not have accepted Star Fox 2.

Star Fox 2 would Fail!

It has long been said that there were whole decades where the general population did not know what they wanted from a videogame, and 1995 was definitely one of those epochs. Children born after the R U E advertising campaign have to understand that there was a year when the likes of Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island, Comix Zone, and Street Fighter Alpha were panned as too derivative and/or boring; while the likes of Battle Arena Toshinden, Brain Dead 13, and The 11th Hour were lauded as the future of gaming. While it is easy to simply blame this on the public swaying with the trends of the time, there are some elements of their ancient reviewing criteria that have stuck with us through the ages. One of the big ones? A game has to be long and contain “hours of gameplay” to be good. If a game is short, you are not getting enough bang for your buck, and it is indisputably bad.

And Star Fox 2 is over within a half hour.

Them's pigsIf you have moderate skills with 3-D movement, shooting, and positioning your arwings between homebase and a few dozen missiles, it is very easy to complete Star Fox 2 in the time it takes to watch a TV show. Obviously, if your poor Falco isn’t as much as an ace as advertised, and the buzzard is crashing every three seconds, things are going to take longer; but if you have reasonable skills, Normal is more easily conquered than sitting through The Jerky Boys: The Movie. Harder modes add extra obstacles, onslaughts, and Star Wolf members, but Normal Mode is literally Normal Mode, so why would you expect the game to be significantly longer on different levels? And once you beat the game in a half hour, you will likely realize that you could do that even faster, so clearing Star Fox 2 quicker than it takes to watch one spell animation on the Playstation is theoretically possible.

Lest your modern brain think this is a problem, understand that this is the appeal of Star Fox 2. This is a game that is meant to be played to “completion”, but never truly conquered until you have discovered the proper paths to an unbeatable high score. Star Fox 2 ends with the defeat of Andross, but also an arcade-esque “enter your initials” high score table of everyone that has ever completed Star Fox 2 on this cart. You are meant to repel this invasion repeatedly, and get better at it every time. Yes, Star Fox 2 is supposed to take a half hour, but then you will play through it again and again, and devote hours and hours to the game in pursuit of the perfect Star Wolf defeat. And, since you could reasonably get an entire play session out of a short period of time, it would be the ideal game to play “between” other events (or even other games). Have a spare few minutes to yourself? Final Fantasy 6 would require an entire afternoon of making progress, but Star Fox 2 only demands 20 minutes. Maybe you’ll beat your last high score, maybe you won’t, but you’ll have a fun, speedy time trying.

Thank you, PaRappa!But ain’t no way anyone would have identified that in 1995. Back then, Star Fox 2 would have been panned as a tiny voyage that could never stand up to longer adventures like Castlevania: Dracula X. Only fighting games were allowed to have short “arcade modes”, and the idea of an action game that could roll credits in less than an hour was preposterous. This wasn’t the 8-bit era anymore! This wasn’t a time when you could clear Ice Climbers as easily as grabbing an eggplant! This was the gorram future, when these 3-D models were welcome to run around, but they damn well better be attached to a game that is properly worth $70. A Super FX2 chip game that ends before it begins? Inevitable thumbs down and sad face from Scary Larry.

Star Fox 2 is exactly where it should be

But the good news? No one has ever paid for Star Fox 2.

Star Fox 2 was eventually released in 2017 on the Super NES Classic Edition. It was one of 21 games on the device, and many see it as a “bonus game” that didn’t really fit with its contemporaries. It was “an extra”, and little more. For anyone that missed the mini, it was released two years later on the Nintendo Switch Online service as one of the many games you “get anyway” with a subscription to Nintendo online services. In both cases, Star Fox 2 was not a standalone product, and was a perk for already purchasing something that contained Super Metroid. And, while Star Fox 2 was a curiosity on the SNES Classic, on the Nintendo Switch, it flourishes.

This happens fastStar Fox 2 is finally home somewhere it can be used effectively. Star Fox 2 was never going to be a game that worked well with “switching in” a cartridge. That simple process was one where you could be changing over to a new, longer game, and not playing something you already marginally finished. But now that Star Fox 2 is available on a system where you can hop between games as easily as pressing your crosspad? Now you can truly play Star Fox 2 in a way that it can prove its genius. When you have twenty minutes to yourself, you now can defend the Lylat System in the same way you might play a few rounds of a rhythm game or a couple online matches in a fighting game. Star Fox 2 is now, finally permitted to thrive.

Star Fox 2: The best 1995 game released over twenty years later.

SBC #06 Fox & Star Fox 2

Fox in Super Smash Bros Ultimate


  • He any good? With his iconic moves like the reflector or the blaster, Fox is possibly the character most known for his appearance in Smash Bros over his own starring roles. And he’s fast. So very fast. Not my cup of tea, as I prefer slow and smashy, but Fox is definitely good and content with his lightning kick.
  • That final smash work? Finally! The Landmaster is no longer involved! Unfortunately, this makes Fox’s final smash little more than a cutscene. I guess it’s nice to be reminded that the rest of the squad exists?
  • The background work? The Corneria Cruise with the Great Fox is basically a modified version of the original Sector Z tour from Super Smash Bros. The shape is the same, but the original Sector Z stage was weirdly huge, while this stage is an itty bitty giant spaceship. No matter. You can still hide out on that laser at the bottom for absolutely no reason.
  • First Appearance: I understand why, but Fox is so slow back on the N64. It feels like he can barely do damage, but his ability to hop all over the arena and grab 70 items before Donkey Kong can even blink is pretty choice.
  • Classic Mode: “Spaceborne Smash” sees Fox battling all the smashers that come from the stars. And that means we all have to be reminded that Metaknight of Kirby’s cast comes from space. This naturally concludes with Star Wolf and Master Hand. Is Master Hand a stand-in for a giant face that is normally Fox’s enemy?
  • Smash Trivia: Fox’s background based “smash taunt” started the tradition of one stage having specific scenes with “outside” characters talking. This led to Shadow Moses Island and Palutenia’s Wisdom in later games, so it is arguably Fox’s most important contribution to the franchise.
  • Dash!

  • Amiibo Corner: Trophy Fox is dynamic and dashing forward, complete with his little shield charm and scouter. Still, this kind of direction-oriented amiibo needs a matching buddy going in the other direction. Falco? You available?
  • Does Smash Bros Remember Today’s Game? Arguably, nobody remembers today’s game. Star Fox 2 influenced future titles, but it doesn’t seem to have made an individual impact on Smash Bros.

Fox in Star Fox 2

  • System: It was intended for the Super Nintendo, but it can only be played on a novelty mini console, and the Nintendo Switch.
  • Number of players: Maybe if they made this a “full release”, it would include a versus mode like Star Fox 64. Sticking to single player, now, though.
  • WeeeeeA shape of things to come: The RTS system here would obviously return in Star Fox Command, the “walker” would come back in Star Fox Zero, and nearly everything else became part of Star Fox 64. That said, the way the walker steers feels remarkably like Super Mario 64, and it is difficult to see those sections of Star Fox 2 as anything but a trial run for that eventual classic.
  • Those we left behind: Even though they would have likely caught the furry world by storm like Krystal, I do feel like the Star Fox Team is lesser for ditching Miyu the Lynx and Fay the Poodle. Aside from the obvious dose of estrogen being sorely lacking for so long, the idea of an aristocratic socialite turned pilot bickering with Falco is delightful. Less of a loss is Star Wolf’s Algy the Lemur, who lacks the plot hook of replacement Andrew’s fail-nephew status.
  • Favorite Pilot: Let’s just go with Miyu the Lynx. There really isn’t a moment for any one pilot to shine in this adventure, but Miyu has a lot of potential as one of the neophytes. Also: I like cats.
  • An End: Andross apparently only really knows how to build giant faces and cubes that also feature a bunch of faces. There is an unexplored vanity that permeates everything this less-than-a-king-kong does.
  • Choose your fighterDid you know? This was the last game that involved a working relationship between Argonaut Software and Nintendo. They collaborated on Star Fox, Stunt Race FX, and Star Fox 2. But Argonaut’s successor, Q-Games, would work with Nintendo again in 2006 on Star Fox Command. And the connection between Star Fox 2 and Star Fox Command is, in retrospect, glaringly obvious.
  • Would I play again: I have not yet stopped playing this game, as it is an excellent way to wind down after playing some other game. And I play a lot of games! So Star Fox 2 will show up again.

What’s next? King Dedede is going to save Dreamland… assuming Kirby doesn’t screw it all up! Please look forward to it!

No biting

SBC #05 Mythra & Xenoblade Chronicles 3

This article contains spoilers for the Xenoblade Chronicles franchise. Well, X is barely mentioned… But 1, 2, and 3 all get spoiled to hell. Oh! And Xenogears and Xenosaga are in there, too. You have been warned!

Welcome to the latest XenoXenogears is a classic, deservedly laudable videogame. However, no one can say that the final product was what was imagined when the project was initially developed. Some of its most iconic moments, from Fei’s continual chair warming to entire dungeons that appeared only as JPEGs, were the result of a game that should have been two “episodes” being compressed into a single title. Whether you believe ChuChu on the cross is something that would have happened if anyone involved had longer than five seconds to consider the theological ramifications is immaterial, we simply know that Xenogears as we have it is not the same animal that would have come from an expanded development cycle. Even tracing back to its origins as a potential Final Fantasy or Chrono Trigger sequel, Xenogears was forced to find its identity on the fly(ing robot). In short, Xenogears is great, but what we know as the final product “Xenogears” was totally an accident.

And then Xenogears begat Xenosaga. Xenosaga was a “saga” that was released over years, and, if that trilogy did not maintain a consistent cast, you would be forgiven for assuming they were three unrelated games. Classic RPG combat system! Or something about toppling now? Wait, now we’re done with that, and attempting a structure where you are supposed to draw aggro? And gameplay aside, the plot of Xenosaga was very publicly modified (almost exactly) halfway through, with its driving writer being canned, stories being heavily altered, and, oh yeah, the second game was supposed to be part of the first game that was supposed to be part of six games. You have about the same possibility of properly pacing a story in those circumstances as you do seeing a fish graduate law school (note: this jape should not be seen as related to my ongoing suit against The Law Firm of Fishguy and Octoman). I have objectively proven that Xenosaga is a trilogy worthy of its existence, but Xenosaga, after years of development shifts, is more of an accident than anything.

Working on itXenoblade Chronicles was arguably the first Xeno title that was a complete game. It was not initially planned as a “Xeno” title, but dropping the Monado from its title was suggested to honor what had come before. Xenoblade was designed from the start to be a perfect combination of gameplay and plot by the guy who was responsible for the 30-minute cutscenes of Xenosaga. In pursuit of this ideal, Xenoblade Chronicles became a franchise that rewarded the player not only for combat, but also other mundane tasks like talking to NPCs or discovering new locales. And this all worked well… but combined poorly with a world that eventually got whittled down to, like, two towns and a cave as the plot progressed. A game that simultaneously rewards you for looking everywhere but effectively locks you out of that option in favor of advancing the story is a major miss. Did the producers not understand the game they were making? Was this all just an accident?

(And we’re going to skip Xenoblade Chronicles X, because talking about that delightful mess should be an article all on its own…)

So Xenoblade Chronicles led to Xenoblade Chronicles 2…

SBC #02.2: Sheik & The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

Today’s article contains game-long spoilers for The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. If you are someone who cares about the plot of this game that is all about gameplay, I understand completely. Right there with you, buddy. So, please be aware, spoilers and all that riot. You have been warned.

Falling into youZelda, I’m really sorry you missed this one.

I have been gaming for all of my life, and I have learned one important fact in that time: never listen to fan theories on a game before its release. To be clear on this rule, it is not because fan theories are often bad or wrong, it is because they can be too good. For an easy example, consider that nearly every fan theory for a future Metroid game has consistently been better than anything Nintendo has ever released (who played Super Metroid and thought “this woman needs a condescending AI buddy”?). For another obvious example, before The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom was released (or even named), many people put forward the theory that Zelda would be playable in “Breath of the Wild 2”. This speculation was predominantly based on the initial trailers emphasizing Link and Zelda exploring a cave, and apparently the reason Zelda had short hair now was that she was going to be Player 2. After all, this has always been The Legend of Zelda, we were bound to have a playable titular character one of these days. Oh! And the whole thing was already referencing The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword heavily, and that was a game where Zelda had her own active adventure parallel to Link. Just as surely as we would see Link diving off sky islands onto the ground, here we would see Zelda’s “lost time” when the traditional swordsman wasn’t around.

But it was not to be…

FGC #655 Final Fantasy 6: Part 7

Final Fantasy 6 is one of my favorite games, so we now have seven different articles about Final Fantasy 6 posted over the course of three weeks. This is the finale, and we will finally advance to a new game on Friday. Now we conclude Final Fantasy 6 coverage with…

Damn octopusNow let’s throw the book at Final Fantasy 3.

Back in the time of Final Fantasy 6, if you wanted more out of a videogame, you were pretty well stuck. Only very particular franchises had direct sequels, so even if you wanted more Super Mario Bros. 3 action, it was still very likely that that raccoon tail would be dropped for a dinosaur by the next adventure. The internet as we know it was still a few years away from allowing for endless online discussions, and DLC was an unknown acronym that could only marginally apply to errant echidnas. However, we did have one place to fill the void: books and magazines.

I have never seen an in-depth interview with a 90’s Nintendo Power or strategy guide writer, but I have always assumed that there was more at play in those publications than just “tips from the pros”. Yes, everyone has recounted eternally how they were videogame propaganda rags, and the fact that the worst licensed pap would still score in the higher percentfiles seems to support this hypothesis. But these periodicals were written in the early days of gaming by people that had to be exposed to the most gaming content that had ever existed at that point in human history. They had to love it, right? They would not have lasted through seven seconds of reviewing Day Dreamin’ Davey otherwise! And they must have had the same desires as the players, too, right? A desperate need to get more out of the games they 100% enjoyed, even knowing full well that the next Final Fantasy would have nothing to do with their previous, beloved entry.

So here is something that I have to believe is a labor of love… Even if it is a mostly wrong labor of love…


I purchased this book when “Final Fantasy 3” was still fairly fresh. I never needed this book. I already owned multiple issues of Final Fantasy 3 Nintendo Power coverage, and the official Nintendo Power strategy guide for Final Fantasy 3. By the time this book was in my hands, I already knew every “real” trick, secret, and tip for Final Fantasy 3 (except maybe that it wasn’t actually titled Final Fantasy 3). This was a random Electronics Boutique purchase, and I know that because I still have part of the price tag on the back cover…


And, let me tell you, this had to look like a deal back in the day. Over 480 pages! The danged official guide was barely broader than a pencil, but this bad boy was thick enough to wallop a Pearl Dragon into next week! Just think of all the extra tips and tricks that must be in this complete guide not from the pros at Nintendo!


(This is the number one google result for “Final Fantasy 3 Thicc”)

And this was, of course, a giant trick. This guide is garbage, and, more often than not, factually incorrect. It is literally the opposite of helpful for any conceivable reason.

I also absolutely love and adore this book.

So allowing for inflation and my extremely limited allowance as a child, I’m pretty sure I paid a relative $10,000 for this guide. Let’s roast it so my 12-year-old self gets his money’s worth




(from here on out, click on any image to see a larger version)

First of all, we need to address whatever is happening here. According to fanboymaster of Even Worse Streams, “Hayaku Kaku’s” signature characters above his name roughly translate to

“quickly written”, or since they aren’t really conjugated "quick write"


Hayaku Kaku is definitely not anyone’s name. Names in Japanese are basically never written in a mix of character sets. Hayaku Kaku is here written as a mix of Kanji and Hiragana which you’d basically never see in a name, they’re also not really name kanji to my understanding and to more accurately explain the point of conjugation, hayaku and kaku are both the sort of plain form of the respective verbs, you’ll sometimes see it referred to as the dictionary form. So if you were just thumbing through a dictionary those are the forms of quick and write you would see.

So, yes, I am 100% convinced this was a C.B. Cebulski – Akira Yoshida situation, and this is the work of a white guy pretending to be Japanese while writing about a Japanese game. Ol’ Kaku doesn’t have any other writing credits, so if someone else wants to prove me wrong here, have at it.


Note that this is the official unofficial Prima guide for Final Fantasy 3…